The Relationship between Adolescent Social Network Structure and Perceptions of School Climate
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This study employed data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to examine the relationship between school social network variables and adolescent student perceptions of school climate. School climate is a multi-dimensional construct that represents a student’s feelings of connectedness with the school institution and social community. As a result, positive perceptions of school climate have been linked to improved outcomes across a broad spectrum of student life, including academics, social-emotional health, and pro-social behavior. While climate is frequently examined through school attributes, little research has been done to explain its relationship to the patterns of social relationships within the student population. As a student’s perception of school climate, represented by their holistic impression and relationship with the institution of school, is so greatly dependent on the social context within which they are embedded, it is imperative to understand and explain the effect of network structure at the school level. In response to this need, the purpose of this study is to explore the ways in which the structure of students’ social relationships at a school level is associated with their perceptions of school climate. In order to understand the transactional relationship between climate and network structure, a quantitative cross sectional design was used to examine data at the school level through standard and sequential predictor entry multiple linear regressions. In addition, interaction terms were created in order to understand the way that school size moderates this relationship. Significant transactional relationships with school climate were found with both school size and racial salience, while a significant interaction effect was found between school size and racial diversity. Results indicate important implications not only for school size, but the organizational makeup of social sub-divisions within the school. Recommendations for future research includes replication with a contemporary sample, alternate statistical methodology, and the design of network-based climate interventions.
- Education - Seattle